, Derry, New Hampshire

Crime / Court

June 8, 2011

Defaulting on a loan is serious business

I defaulted on a bank loan and now the sheriff served me papers stating that I must answer. I can't afford an attorney and I can't afford the loan. If I don't act on this matter, can they put me in jail? Can you be thrown in jail in a civil lawsuit?

A civil lawsuit is between two private parties, for the most part. This is in contrast to a criminal case, which involves the state pressing charges against an individual in which fines and imprisonment can be involved in sentencing.

However, do not make the mistake of ignoring the papers. While it is true that the U.S., has done away with debtor's prisons, it is also true that ignoring an order to appear in court can lead to a finding of contempt, which can, in some circumstances, in fact, lead to a stay inside a cell.

Find an attorney and respond to the papers. Without responding, you will be subject to a default judgment against you on the plaintiff's terms. A hearing will be set up and, if you do not show up, you can be held in contempt.

Explore all options, including at least considering Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you have many debts, the bankruptcy option is something to at least review.

Get a consultation so that you can make an informed decision. The automatic stay of bankruptcy will stop all debt collection activity and, in the end, if the bankruptcy is done properly, your unsecured debt will be discharged.

My ex-wife and I made a verbal agreement to not seek child support modification. My attorney sent a letter to her attorney verifying this agreement.

We requested that her attorney draw up the agreement on paper, but she never did. I was never given legal papers to sign. Can she now seek modification since no-one ever signed anything?

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